The Trouble With Goodbye Online - By Sarra Cannon

Chapter One

My stomach twists as the sign for Harrison’s Pecan Farm comes into view.

Exactly twelve miles from the house I grew up in and swore I’d never move back to.

And even though I’ve driven almost a thousand miles to get here, I’m still not ready for that sign. Not yet.

I turn onto the gravel road, deciding to take the long way instead of going through downtown. It’s midnight on a Friday night which means lots of people I used to know riding around town and hanging out, drinking. Someone is bound to recognize my car and start up the rumor mill. I don’t want to risk it. I’m going to need a good night’s sleep before I’m ready to be the old Leigh Anne.

With any luck, I won’t even have to face my parents tonight. They’re usually in bed by ten, so maybe I can sneak in and postpone the questions and the lectures until tomorrow.

The car vibrates as I roll over the loose gravel. Smoky-gray dust rises up around me. Ghosts of my past life come back to haunt me. Ten minutes ago, I could barely keep my eyes open, but now I’m wide awake and wishing I had another hundred miles to go.

From the side of the road, movement draws my eye and I slam on the brakes as a trio of deer runs out in front of my car. I’m going too fast. I turn the steering wheel, remembering my granddaddy’s warning to always hit a big animal at an angle instead of straight-on. Only, I realize too late that I’ve yanked the wheel way too hard.

The tires slip against the small rocks and the car lurches sideways, throwing my shoulder hard against the door as the vehicle skids off the road and into the ditch. My right foot presses hard against the brake pedal, but it’s too little, too late. I’ve managed to miss the deer, but there’s no way around that tree. I brace myself for impact and hold my breath.

There’s a brief moment where I think, this is it.

My whole life doesn’t exactly flash before my eyes the way they say it will before you die. No, it’s just one night that comes to mind.

And as it does, I almost hope this is the end.

A scream is ripped from my throat as my body jerks forward violently. The windshield shatters into a million pieces that fly into my hair and lap. It all happens so fast. There’s less than a full second of the loudest noise I’ve ever heard as the metal bends and groans, but then everything comes to an abrupt stop.

I sit there, my body tense, my fingers wrapped around the steering wheel in a death-grip, and I force myself to breathe.

My legs tremble and my heart hammers against my ribs.

What. The. Fuck.

I can’t move. I can’t think. I can only sit and stare and breathe in and out.

Gradually, I manage to pull my shaking hands from the wheel and unbuckle the seatbelt that’s now cutting off my circulation. Tiny shards of glass fall from my skin and clothes as I move, but I don’t think I’m cut. My shoulder throbs and my neck is sore, but other than that, I’m okay.

My mind is spinning, but I’m coherent enough to know I should call someone. Get help.

I reach for my phone and pause. Who do I call? If my parents come out here and see this mess, they are going to totally freak out. They’re already going to be in major over-protective mode right now, so the image of me almost dying in a car accident is going to tempt them to lock me in a closet until I’m twenty-five.

I shake my head and tears spring to my eyes. Who else would I call? I’ve barely talked to any of my old friends since I left for school two years ago. It’s not like I can just call them up in the middle of the night and make small talk until it seems appropriate to mention I’ve smashed my car into a tree and could really use a ride home.

No, there’s no one else. I dial my dad’s cell phone and press the phone to my ear. I wait.

Nothing happens. I pull the phone away and stare at it, dazed. What the hell is wrong with this thing?

Then, through the haze of confusion in my brain, I remember I’m not in Boston anymore. I’m literally in the middle of nowhere. I check for